For decades there have been stigmas surrounding addiction. These stigmas have left people feeling ashamed and embarrassed about their problems and recovery. They have made getting treatment and staying in recovery more difficult. The organization Faces & Voices of Recovery seeks to change that. There are more than 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction and, according to the group, more than two-thirds of American families are touched by addiction.
The mission statement of Faces & Voices of Recovery is simple yet powerful: “Faces & Voices of Recovery is dedicated to organizing and mobilizing the over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, our families, friends and allies into recovery community organizations and networks, to promote the right and resources to recovery through advocacy, education and demonstrating the power and proof of long-term recovery.”
The Anonymous People
The organization created a documentary called The Anonymous People that shows the power of people to drive change. It examines how addiction has been viewed in the past and people discriminated against it. It shares real life stories of those in long-term recovery and those speaking out to build support and change public perception. Orange County drug and alcohol rehab center Chapters Capistrano shows this documentary to new clients entering rehab. There is hope for those struggling with addiction and they should not be ashamed to reach out for help.
So what are some of the issues that this documentary addresses?
- People struggling with addiction are normal people.
No one plans to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, but it happens. These people could be ones you see every day at the office, the grocery store, the gym, the neighborhood, and anywhere else. They are parents, business professionals, actors, politicians, writers, entrepreneurs, and students. Addiction is not a choice; it is a disease.
- The media sensationalizes the negative.
Part of the reason the negative perception of addiction continues is because that is what the media focuses on. As soon as a celebrity is recognized to have an addiction, media outlets are filled with stories of how addiction is taking a toll on their life. They go for shock value. But once the person has entered into rehab and is turning their life around, there is very little media coverage. How often do you see a story about someone being five years drug free? Or about how they’ve bounced back and become more successful in their life? Not nearly as often as you hear about the negatives.
And it is this negative impact that can keep people from seeking treatment. They may be worried about the attention it will draw and how it will be perceived by others. After all, it is the pitfalls of addiction that the media focuses on and it is often presented in a poor light. Instead, many people continue to try to hide their addiction or remain secretive.
- Ongoing treatment is essential.
Addiction is recognized as a chronic disease, much like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. But as the documentary points out, when someone goes to the hospital with problems related to their diabetes, they are given medication to stabilize their blood sugar and they are fed and well cared for. There is often follow-up care with their doctor or other medical personnel. When someone with an addiction goes to the hospital, they are treated and sent back to the streets. They are often looked down upon as drug seeker or criminal. There may not be much intervention to try to get them the help they need and follow-up care to support them in achieving and maintaining sobriety.
People with diabetes or cardiovascular disease often receive ongoing care throughout their lives. Those who attend addiction rehab do not necessarily receive the same community resources and support for their recovery. Once they’ve completed treatment, they’re on their own. Peer support and community support can go a long way in helping them enter long-term recovery.
- Cast aside the stigmas by speaking out.
More people are coming forward and speaking up about their success and long-term recovery. They are sharing their stories as a way to educate and inspire others. Actress Kristen Johnson has been a huge supporter of addiction recovery. She speaks openly about her struggles and even wrote a book. She was tired of feeling embarrassed about her addiction.
Though some groups have “anonymous” as part of their title or principles, that does not mean that people need to stay silent. By standing up and fighting for their rights, better treatment, and more support, they can drive change. Communities can come together to promote addiction recovery.
A Slow Change
Through the years, change has been slow but it is happening. Organizations like Faces & Voices of Recovery are striving to change the verbiage used to discuss addiction and recovery. They want to create a more positive dialogue. Lawmakers are beginning to pass bills to increase access and coverage for addiction treatment. It is now a requirement that substance use treatment be included in healthcare coverage. Things are beginning to turn around but still more action is needed.
As the documentary points out, community is the backbone of the recovery movement. It allows those in recovery as well as their family and friends to connect with others for ongoing support. When those in recovery pull together, it creates a safer environment where others can come and reduce their worries. It is a way to keep providing support beyond rehab facilities for those who have completed treatment. Support programs are effective in part because they help people stay sober by helping someone else to stay sober. Everyone benefits.
Addiction does not discriminate and those in recovery should not be discriminated against. Advocacy and education are powerful tools. Take time to learn more by watching The Anonymous People. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Chapters Capistrano is here to support you along each step of the way to recovery. Contact Chapters Capistrano online or at 949-371-4198 to learn more about our luxury rehab services and how you can start a new chapter in your life.